06/23/2009 11:00PM

Ouzts rides off with River Downs title


The spring meet ends Friday at River Downs, but the meet leaders were pretty much decided by Tuesday. Perry Ouzts will win the riding title for the 20th time as he had 71 wins through Tuesday, 29 more than the next jockey. Joe Woodard will win the training title for the fifth time, with 22 wins through Tuesday, six more than his next rival.

River Downs has not kept track of leading owners through the years, but Billy Hays will win the mythical owners' title, with 32 in the first 49 days of racing. That is quite an accomplishment and may be the record.

"I know in the modern era nobody has won that many at a meet," said Joey Van Hoosier, River Downs clocker. "You would have to go way, way back for anybody to have come close. I have been around 40 years and don't recall anybody winning that many - maybe Herb Stevens when he had Calumet's second string."

Hays is the second leading owner in the country through Tuesday, having won 97 races out of 305 starts, a 32 percent win rate.

Hays is a car dealer by profession, with dealerships in Louisville, Nashville, and Evansville. Owning horses is for fun and relaxation.

"It is just a passion of mine," Hays said. "I was an athlete and have watched athletics, and I have always said horses are the most honest athletes out there. They give you everything they can give and don't ask for ridiculous contracts. They just need food and water and taking care of and we try to do that the best we can."

Hays started in the racing industry in the mid-90s and has been hooked ever since, often working with Woodard.

"I hooked up with Joe and we got lucky early on," Hays said. "We claimed some that Joe moved up and we made some money. He is a friend as well as my trainer; we have a great time."

Woodard and Hays also set the record for consecutive wins at Churchill Downs with 10 wins.

Hays intends to continue to race at River in the future and is a big Cincinnati Reds fan.

"I was coming to River Downs on trips to watch the Reds long before I had horses," he said. "I love the atmosphere, and the people are always so nice. It is a pleasure to go there."